The only way you can finish one thing is to say no to other things.
You have to say no to all the other books you could write in order to finish the one you already started writing.
You have to say no to all the other pieces you could paint until you finish the one you’re painting.
You have to say no to all the other businesses you could start until you’ve actually pulled together the one you’re in now.
You get it.
The dilemma, then, is how you decide what to focus on in a world of so many possibilities.
How do you know which book is best, which business is best, which endeavor is best?
In a nutshell:
• you take a look at all the possibilities
• you line them up next to your values
• you commit to the one that best matches up with your vision.
Your values tell you what matters most to you, to who you really are, to what you want to achieve.
Some people talk about vision in these kind of terms, and that’s not too bad. I prefer values and here’s why:
Your vision is all about what you hope will happen. It’s about a future condition or achievement or state of being. It’s about what you want to produce, the circumstances you want to create. It isn’t present in reality, it’s present only in a future potential.
That’s great. Clarifying your vision can have its uses.
But values are a little different.
Your values tell you what is real, now, important to you today. Your values are about what’s present in your reality, what’s deep in your heart, what’s defining the way you live. Your values are about who you are now. They tell you what you care about the most – not in a “I should care about this” way, but in a real, gritty, truthful way. Your values may not be what you think they “should” be. They’ll be unique, though, and they’ll be your own.
And when you line up your values, you get a picture of yourself: both the real, present, here-and-now flawed person, and the future person you can become.
And when you get out all your possibilities, your potentials, your opportunities, and you put them in a neat little row next to your values, some of them will immediately not fit. And those are the ones that should go straight into the wastebasket.
Some of them will click with a few of your values, but not all. Those can go in the wastebasket, too, if you’re brave enough, or into some sort of holding file for future consideration.
A few of your possibilities will really mesh with your values. They’ll fit with the majority, and in some cases they’ll click so well it’s like a match made in heaven. Those are the ones to scrutinize, the ones to consider, the ones to hang on to.
From this little pile you’ll find the one to pursue now. You can narrow it down to one by any sort of method; it doesn’t really matter. They’re probably all good, viable ideas, and if you commit to any one of them you’ll be able to make it happen.
But you’ve got to commit to one, and carry it through, and picking one in line with your values will make success much easier. Because a goal or project that is in line with your values is one that will energize you and fit with you who are and what you know. It has grown out of what you value, so dedicating your energy to it will be natural.
So, the question you need to answer is this: what do you value?
What would you give your time and energy to if you received no reward or recognition? What would you sacrifice to achieve? What has been a constant source of joy (and anxiety) in your life for years?
What do you value?
It’s not a quick process to answer that question, but if you give yourself time, you’ll find the answer. And when you find the answer, you’ll know exactly what to do from there.
Annie Mueller enjoys creating a personal yet professional voice to render complex topics understandable. Her passion is helping home, small, and micro businesses succeed. Read more about Annie here.